My Lords, this is an important debate. As we all know, Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the domestic and global economies. Some 3 million people have applied for universal credit and a significant proportion of the workforce is furloughed. We are still uncertain about when schools and universities will return to normal or when graduates will be able to find jobs. Yesterday the OECD warned that the UK is likely to be the hardest hit of all major economies. That should concern us all, but it should also motivate us to break from the past and rebuild in a fairer, cleaner and more sustainable way.
I think we all agree that GDP, despite its importance as an indicator, should no longer be the only way we measure economic success. Among other things, we need to embrace means of improving well-being and boosting social mobility. A fairer economy means tackling health inequalities, rebalancing the regions and getting to grips with the issues that prevent individuals from certain ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds meeting their full potential.
Doing this will require new policies rooted in a new consensus. We need to change, from how we engage with businesses and citizens to how we restructure central government. For example, should there be a Minister with a formal responsibility for economic fairness? Should that Minister sit in the Cabinet? How will the Government ensure that such a Minister can work effectively across all departments?
The scale of the challenge we face is significant. Very little good will come out of Covid-19, but acceptance of the need to reshape our economy could be one glimmer of hope.